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List of English Color Idioms and their Meaning

Published Saturday, July 14, 2007

Idioms are phrases or expressions that does not mean what it literally says. In other words, it is a manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language (in this case English) and usually cannot be translated literally.

Given below are a list of Color related Idioms and their Definitions. For other types of idioms, check out the Related Article section at the end of this post. Now go a head and learn what you can and use these expressions or phrases to make your language more colorful.

English Color Idioms

Black Idioms

as black as coal
Meaning: very black.

black eye
Meaning: a bruise near one's eye which makes it appear black; a bad reputation.

black market
Meaning: the place where goods or money are illegally bought and sold; a system of buying and selling officially controlled goods illegally.

Meaning: to extort/take money from someone by threats to divulge

black list
Meaning: list of unwanted people; a list of disapproved people or groups who are under suspicion or excluded from something; to exclude/ostracize someone, to write someone's name on a list if they break some rules.

Meaning: loss of electricity; to lose consciousness; temporary withholding of information.

black sheep
Meaning: somebody regarded by the other members of a family or group as not living up to their standards and expectations (a misfit); a person who is a disgrace or embarrassment to a family or group.

in the black
Meaning: successful or profitable; not showing a financial loss.

Meaning: to exclude/ostracize someone socially, to reject someone; The act of excluding someone by a negative vote or veto.

black-tie event/affair
Meaning: a formal event where guests wear semi-formal clothes with men wearing black bow ties with tuxedos or dinner jackets.

in (someone's) black books
Meaning: to be in disgrace or out of favor with someone.

Meaning: very black, as black as pitch.

pot calling the kettle black
Meaning: the person who criticizes/accuses someone else is as guilty as the person he or she criticizes/accuses; criticizing others for the very fault one possesses.

Black and Blue Idioms

black and blue
Meaning: bruised

Black and white Idioms

black and white
Meaning: simple, clear and understandable; clearly distinct or different; either good or bad, either one way or the other way but not in between; in writing, officially.

put down in black and white
Meaning: to write the details of a contract or something on paper.

Brown Idioms

as brown as a berry
Meaning: having the skin tanned brown by the sun.

brown bag it
Meaning: to take a lunch to work or elsewhere, usually in a small brown paper bag.

Meaning: partial loss of electricity; dimming of lights - so named because it typically causes lights to dim.

Meaning: slightly vulgar, refers to flattering (please) someone in a position of power in order to obtain favors, in a way that other people find unpleasant .

in a brown study
Meaning: seriously contemplating something.

Blue Idioms

Meaning: sad

blue blood
Meaning: royal, regal; : the blood of a noble/aristocratic family.

blue funk
Meaning: very depressed

blue movies
Meaning: movies with explicit sex.

blue ribbon
Meaning: first rate; of superior quality; the best of a group; the highest distinction or first prize in a particular field.

blue-collar workers
Meaning: laborers; manual workers

a blue-eyed boy
Meaning: a boy/young man who has been singled out for special favors by someone in authority; a boy/young man who is liked and admired by someone in authority.

to appear/happen out of the blue
Meaning: to happen very suddenly and unexpectedly.

to blue pencil something
Meaning: to censor something.

to look / feel blue
Meaning: to look / feel depressed or discontented.

blue in the face
Meaning: Exhausted from anger, strain, or other great effort; weakened, tired after trying many times.

once in a blue moon
Meaning: to occur extremely rarely or only once in a life-time.

feel blue
Meaning: depressed

get/have the blues
Meaning: to become sad or depressed.

out of the blue
Meaning: without any warning, by surprise.

talk a blue streak
Meaning: to talk very much and very rapidly.

talk until one is blue in the face
Meaning: to talk until one is exhausted.

Gray Idioms

get/have gray hair
Meaning: to have one's hair turn gray from stress.

a gray area
Meaning: something that is not clearly defined and may have a broad or more than one answer, and is therefore difficult to deal with.

gray matter
Meaning: brains, intelligence

get/have gray hair
Meaning: to have one's hair turn gray from stress.

to go gray
Meaning: become gray-haired.

Green Idioms

Meaning: to be inexperienced or immature.

be green with envy
Meaning: very jealous of another person's property; wishing very much that you had what someone else has.

get/have the green light
Meaning: to receive a signal to start or continue something; to give permission for someone; approve a project or request.

grass is always greener on the other side
Meaning: a place that is far away or different seems better than where we are now; a different situation always seems better than one's own.

green belt
Meaning: the countryside around a city; an area of fields and trees around a city or town.

Meaning: to be good at keeping plants healthy and making them grow.

green around the gills
Meaning: looking sick

green-eyed monster
Meaning: jealousy

green thumb
Meaning: a talent for gardening, the ability to make things grow

green with envy
Meaning: to be very jealous, to be full of envy

Meaning: an untrained/inexperienced/naive person

Pink Idioms

pink lady
Meaning: an alcoholic drink

pink-collar workers
Meaning: office workers, esp. women

Meaning: the little fingers

tickled pink
Meaning: very happy

in the pink
Meaning: in very good health

pink slip
Meaning: a termination notice from a job

pink elephants
Meaning: any visual hallucination arising from heavy drinking or use of narcotics.

see pink elephants
Meaning: to see things which are not really there, and exist only in ones imagination.

tickled pink
Meaning: to be very pleased or delighted by someone or something.

Red Idioms

catch red-handed
Meaning: to catch someone in the act of doing something wrong

red tape
Meaning: bureaucracy; official procedure regarded as unnecessary, overcomplicated, or obstructive; excessive formalities in official business.

roll out the red carpet
Meaning: give the best treatment; to give a big welcome to someone; to treat someone as an honored guest.

red-carpet treatment
Meaning: to receive special/royal treatment.

to see red
Meaning: very angry.

red herring
Meaning: any diversion intended to distract attention from the main issue/ something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand.

red-faced/ red in the face
Meaning: embarrassed

as red as a cherry
Meaning: bright red

as red as a rose
Meaning: intensely red

as red as a poppy
Meaning: bright red

as red as a ruby
Meaning: deep red

as red as blood
Meaning: deep red

in the red
Meaning: to be in debt; to be unprofitable; showing a financial loss.

like waving a red flag in front of a bull
Meaning: what you are doing will definitely make someone angry or upset.

out of the red
Meaning: out of debt

paint the town red
Meaning: to go out and party and have a good time.

Meaning: an airplane flight that leaves late at night and arrives early in the morning; an unwanted photographic effect in which a person's iris appears to be red.

a red flag
Meaning: a signal that something is not working properly or correctly; warning signal.

Meaning: very hot, creating much excitement or demand.

red-letter day
Meaning: a day that is memorable because of some important event.

see red
Meaning: to become very angry.

Rainbow Idioms

chase rainbows
Meaning: to try to get or achieve something that is difficult or impossible.

White Idioms

white lie
Meaning: a harmless or small lie told to be polite or to avoid hurting someone's feelings; small, insignificant lie.

white as a sheet
Meaning: very pale, frightened

white-collar workers
Meaning: management; non-manual workers, e.g.. office clerical, supervisory sales, technical workers and professional workers.

as white as a ghost
Meaning: very pale because of fear/shock/illness.

as white as the driven snow
Meaning: very white

carte blanche (French)
Meaning: the freedom or permission to do what you want.

raise/wave a white flag
Meaning: to indicate that you have been defeated and you want to give up.

white elephant
Meaning: a burdensome possession; creating more trouble than it is worth; a rare, expensive possession that is a financial burden to maintain and has no useful purpose - a useless possession.

white sale
Meaning: the selling of towels, bed linens, sheets and similar goods at a reduced price.

white-tie event/affair
Meaning: a function that requires guests to wear formal dress. The basic uniform for men include a full evening tailcoat, a white shirt, vest, matching black pants, a white bow tie and black leather shoes.

Meaning: to conceal or make light of a fault/error or offense; to cover up the truth.

Yellow Idioms

be yellow
Meaning: be a coward

have a yellow streak
Meaning: to be cowardly

Meaning: cowardly

Meaning: extremely timid, coward, not brave.

the yellow press
Meaning: popular and sensationalist newspapers; newspapers that deliberately include sensational news items to attract readers.

General Color related Idioms

Meaning: always, permanent

look at/see the world through rose-colored glasses
Meaning: to see only the good things about something; to be too optimistic.

Related Articles:
English Phrases, Expression, Sayings and Abbreviations
English Idioms: Water Idioms and their Meaning
English Idioms - English phrases and their meanings
Conflicting Proverbs
Oxymoron: Expression with Contradictory Words
Anagram: A Short List of Popular Anagrams and Its Definition
Latin Abbreviations and their English meaning
Spanish Language
Basic Spanish and English: Days of the Week and Month of the Year
Basic Spanish and English Words: Family Names in English and Spanish
The Vocabulary of the Human Body in English and Spanish
Spanish Speaking Countries - Countries Where Spanish Is Mostly Spoken
Family Names in English and Spanish
French Language
Basic English and French: Days of the Week and Month of the Year
Languages by Countries
Languages by Countries
Internet Language
The Use and Meaning of Internet Slang: Abbreviations and Acronyms
Emoticons and Smileys - Their Functions and Meanings
Saying Things in Different Language
How to say I Love You in different languages
How to say Happy New Year in different languages
How to say Merry Christmas in Different Languages
American and British English
Differences between American and British English - PT. 2
Differences between American and British English - PT. 1
Collective Nouns
Collective Nouns for Reptiles and Amphibians
Collective Nouns for Fish - What Group of Fish are Called
Collective Nouns for Objects and Concepts
Collective Nouns for Birds - What Group Of Birds Are Called
Collective Nouns of People
What Group Of Animals Are Called

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At 7:23 AM, Blogger manohar kedia said...
At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Steven said...
At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Bill said...
At 4:46 AM, Anonymous Leonard said...
At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Sandra said...

madar chod

Such a great article it was which Idioms are phrases or expressions that does not mean what it literally says.In which it is a manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language and usually cannot be translated literally. Its great theirs color coding in idioms. Thanks for sharing this article.

Thanks for sharing this collection of Idioms. This is really more helpful to people who deals on different people around the world. At least we can easily identify what other people means thru your shared Idioms.

Thanks for the list. This is helpful to me since I am communicating with lots of people and I need some references.

Nice. Where did you get all of this? This is been used to universities especially to international studies and some companies too. cheers!

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